Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From Marketing Manager to an Entrepreneur- Meet Shamim Akhtar

“In 1996, I landed into entrepreneurial career due to my passion to become a successful entrepreneur, it was a decision I will always rejoice! – Shamim Akhtar owner of Care Marketing.

A dynamic women entrepreneur, Shamim Akhtar believes in nature, her business is related to import and marketing of healthcare products made from natural ingredients.

According to Shamim “entrepreneurship is the only way to transform personal abilities in to economic and social development, help our own self and others, by initiating business ventures”.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Effective Business Plan for Small Businesses

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" isa quote by Benjamin Franklin.

However many small business do not start with proper planning. Most start-up entrepreneurs are categorized in the “accidental entrepreneurship” category where things happen as they happen, where fire-fighting is a norm and future is unpredictable.

Having spoken to many small business owners, I have come to realize that mainly due to the lack of capacity and business management skills, small businesses consider business planning a useless and time consuming exercise. They do not realize that an effective business plan helps businesses understand risks and define a pathway to success.

Simple business plan is a sketch of what the business would look like in due course, often called a blueprint for creating a successful business. For small businesses, there is no need for anything too complex. Their business plan is an equation of resources (financial, human, intellectual), inventory/service, market, marketing and in the end projected profits.

It is your business and you should prepare a plan to make it successful!
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Social Media Presence and Online Marketing – Best Selling Tool for Small Business

Small business owners have one common problem, cash flow! One way to increase cash flow is by improving sales volumes. Online marketing is considered as one of the best tools for increasing sales. Days have gone by when business had to wait for customers to come to them, now is the time to reach out to your customers. The market is out there, social media sites such as facebook, twitter, linkedin etc have changed the way marketing was done. The recent one is Groupon which allows you to open your own online store.

Regardless of the size of business, I guess the most important thing for any business owner is to increase its sales by reducing the cost of sale, which enables him to improve the bottom line of the business.

Of these many options, generally, small business owners prefer to go for free opportunities. Amongst the most popular is the facebook fan page. Creating one is easy, but brining the fans to the page is challenging. I was talking to Abdi Beli, Owner of Saadia’s  Kitchen (a home cooked food delivery service) who said that he operates at “zero promotional cost” by using facebook and twitter to promote his business. Abid said that it requires patience and persistence in building the community. It took Saadia’s Kitchen one year to build a community of 3000. But now fans are brings more fans – it’s the multiplier impact now!

You will be surprised to know that brands such as Coca Cola has over 33 million fans on facebook and 350,000followers on twitter. Similarly Disney has 27 million fans on facebook and over 150,000 followers on twitter. Starbucks Coffee has 24 million facebook fans and 1.5 million twitter followers.

The above phenomenon is mindboggling! These are world top brands and can spend billions on TV spots, magazine and newspaper adverts and sponsorships, but the single reason for them bring present on social media, is their recognition of this medium as the fastest growing and the most engaging platform.

Now for small business, the key is to become active on social media. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any training program that could teach you the effective use of social media, so it will be a bumpy ride, at least in the beginning.

Considering the time social media initiative can eat-up, my suggestion for small businesses is to start small – establish presence on facebook and twitter. These two are easy to use and a number of individual business owners might have been using these already for social purpose. Hence turning these into business opportunity tool will not be too challenging.

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